VCU Baseball took down defending national champions the University of Virginia by a final score of 7-5 last Tuesday night at The Diamond. This was the Rams first successful outing against U.Va. since 2003.
The Cavaliers started freshman left-hander Daniel Lynch to oppose sophomore Jonathan Ebersole, who was on the bump for the Rams and got credit for the victory.
The two teams traded one-two-three first frames to kick off the contest. Rams three-hole hitter senior outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan made a loud third out in the bottom half of the first inning with a liner to centerfielf that nearly fooled the U.Va outfielder and sailed over his head.
Back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the second inning got the Cavaliers offense started. A bunt single loaded the bases, and U.Va’s Ryan Karstetter grounded out to VCU junior short-stop Matt Davis to score the game’s first run.
Another bunt by the Cavaliers resulted in a bang-bang play at the plate and second out of the inning. A ground ball back to the pitcher ended the frame with minimal damage and a 1-0 U.Va. lead.
The Rams came back to tie things up in the bottom of the third. Junior outfielder Logan Farrar bunted for a base hit and advanced to second on a throwing error by Lynch.
Senior second baseman Cooper Mickelson hit a chopper through the six-hole with two men down to score his center fielder.
The Rams loaded the bases, but Lynch worked out of the jam by getting junior infielder Darian Carpenter to fly out on a 3-2 count.
Lynch and Ebersole both allowed runners to reach scoring position in the fourth, but defensive plays by Davis and the Cavaliers’ second baseman got them through the inning unscathed.
The Rams’ took the lead in the bottom of the fifth during another rally fueled by Fararr.
The junior speedster singled into the right-field gap and used his elite pace to take second base on the play with no outs in the frame. Mickelson bunted him over to third, and Kerrigan scored him with an infield single and tight play at the plate.
VCU kept the rally rolling in the fifth. Acker reached to set the stage for Carpenter — runners on first and second, one man down.
The Rams’ designated hitter belted a deep drive into the Richmond night and over the left field fence, giving VCU a four run lead over the defending national champions and breaking the ballgame open.
Lynch gave way to his bullpen after the Carpenter home run, and finished with five runs allowed in four and two-thirds innings of work.
Tanner Winters relieved Ebersole on the mound in the sixth to cap off an impressive start for the sophomore right-hander. Virginia put runners on first and third, but Winters got three huge outs in relief to send his Rams back to the dugout with their lead intact.
VCU would extend their lead in the bottom of the sixth. Freshman third baseman Zac Ching singled to open the frame and would later come around to score on a balk. Mickelson found himself up with runners on yet again, and delivered an RBI single to bring in Fararr.
The Cavaliers got two runs back off of Winters in the top of the seventh on a two-run homer down the right field line by Adam Haseley to make the score 7-3.
Junior righty Luke Crabb relieved Winters in the eighth inning. After a strikeout to open the inning, a single and a walk put two runners on for the Cavaliers with one man out in the top of the inning. Crabb bared down, struck a man out and forced a flyout to Kerrigan to end the inning and keep the lead at four.
Junior lefty Matt Jamer came in for Crabb to close the deal in the ninth. The Cavaliers got two runs in the frame on a walk, single, RBI double and RBI groundout, but Jamer got the job done in the end and the Rams came away with a huge victory over their in-state rivals.
Zach Joachim, Contributing writer